Saturday, November 25, 2017

Black Friday misery, or sense prevails?

As one who personally detests the concept of holiday-related retail activity (I’ll go ahead and say it, “Bah, Humbug!!!”), I can’t help but feel some sense in joy in the anecdotal activity I’ve seen with the post-Thanksgiving Christmas holiday shopping that supposedly is taking place Friday.
From what I'm told, Macy's decorations similar to these erected last year. Photos by Gregory Tejeda
I’ve seen a lot of people on Facebook posting their own observations of how the lines at shopping centers and stores don’t seem as ridiculously long this time.

THIS MAY BE an instance of me hoping that by writing something, I make it true regardless of what is really happening.

But I know when I ran an errand Friday that required I physically go to an AT&T store (and yes, they tried giving me the hard-sell to contemplate buying a new phone, even though the one I have now is barely over a year old), I was shocked at how few people were out and about.

The particular store I went to in suburban Chicago is part of a larger shopping area, and shares a parking lot with a Best Buy store – one of those big boxes that typically is particularly gross in trying to sway people in to shop now with so-called holiday retail bargains.

The traffic appeared to be little more than what would be seen on any other Friday mid-day. It didn’t feel like the “Black Friday” holiday at all. Does that mean the retailers who supposedly don’t clear into the black financially for the year until now are still in the red?

Art Institute Chgo's gift to Midwest?
SHOULD WE FEEL sorry for them that the crowds of shoppers trying to find that so-called perfect give to give to Uncle Frankie so he can exchange it for something else during come the late December post-Christmas (he’ll claim it’s the wrong color, but his real objection would be that the XXL size you got him fits perfectly, but he doesn’t want to admit he’s THAT big) aren’t quite so enormous?

Or could it be that many people are coming to the same realization I came to years ago – trying to deal with the holiday shopping crowds on this particular day truly stinks! There are better ways to shop without following the leader – being led by the nose by those advertisements and coupons that retailers put in the Thursday newspapers (and that some people tackily try to steal for free – while leaving the actual editorial content unsold).

A scene we no longer see in downtown Chicago proper
As for those who haven’t learned, perhaps the computer problems experienced Friday by Macy’s (a.k.a., the dirty rats who stole the name “Marshall Field’s” from the Chicago scene) will sway more.

The Friday news reports tell of glitches that prevent people trying to use their Macy’s charge cards from being able to buy anything. Although it seems the problems arise for anybody who tries to buy more than $100 – which is exactly the kind of person Macy’s wants out today (they could care less about the guy looking to buy a package of boxer shorts – which can be as little as a $17.99 purchase if one is particularly cheap).

IT WAS CASH-ONLY at Macy’s, which is such an anti-21st Century attitude (albeit one that I try to follow whenever possible) that I’m sure many would-be followers will be incredibly offended.

So much so they’ll storm off to Kohl’s or J.C. Penney’s or whatever other option they happen to have available to them.

It’s a bit of that holiday shopping frustration that I wish could convince people there has to be a more rational way to do this than think there’s actually something special about this day-after-Thanksgiving that requires us to shop!

It makes me think to the old days when the idea of a downtown holiday shopping trip was as much about the spectacle – particularly in Chicago where many still mourn the loss of Field’s because the old State Street store’s windows no longer have those unique (remember Uncle Mistletoe?) decorations.
How many remember Uncle Mistletoe's wife, Aunt Holly? Photo provided by Chuckman's Chicago Nostalgia
THE WINDOWS STILL exist under the Macy’s brand name, but I’ve already read Facebook rants about how Macy’s has desecrated the whole concept with their generic decorations.

Which may be some people taking the whole concept far too seriously.

But now that “Black Friday” has come and gone, maybe we all now can relax just a bit – something we all probably can use after the stress of the Thanksgiving festivities and the Christmas/Hanukkah/whichever holiday you do activities that will come up in coming weeks.

A bit of relaxation might be what we as a society needs – just before the moment that President Donald J. Trump decides to screw up a national mood of peace by going on yet another irrational Tweet-from-a-Twit rant about how somebody is committing “War” on the Christmas holiday spirit.


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